Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

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Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by weemadando » 2013-02-13 08:21pm

Not April 1st, not Duffel Blog, am I missing something here?
New medal for drone pilots outranks Bronze Star wrote:By Andrew Tilghman - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Feb 13, 2013 16:37:27 EST
The Pentagon is creating a new high-level military medal that will recognize drone pilots and, in a controversial twist, giving it added clout by placing it above some traditional combat valor medals in the military’s “order of precedence.”

The Distinguished Warfare Medal will be awarded to pilots of unmanned aircraft, offensive cyber war experts or others who are directly involved in combat operations but who are not physically in theater and facing the physical risks that warfare historically entails.

The new medal will rank just below the Distinguished Flying Cross. It will have precedence over — and be worn on a uniform above — the Bronze Star with Valor device, a medal awarded to troops for specific heroic acts performed under fire in combat.

The new medal is a brass pendant, nearly two inches tall, with a laurel wreath that circles a globe. An eagle is in the center. The ribbon has blue, red and white stripes.

“This award recognizes the reality of the kind of technological warfare we are engaged in the 21st century,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.

The new medal will be awarded for specific acts, such as the successful targeting of a particular individual at a critical time.

“Our military reserves its highest decorations obviously for those who display gallantry and valor in actions when their lives are on the line and we will continue to do so,” Panetta said.

“But we should also have the ability to honor the extraordinary actions that make a true difference in combat operations,” Panetta said. “The contribution they make does contribute to the success of combat operations, particularly when they remove the enemy from the field of battle, even if those actions are physically removed from the fight.”

The service secretaries will make the final determination for awarding the Distinguished Warfare Medal.

The order of precedence came as a surprise to Doug Sterner, a military medals expert and the curator of the Military Times Hall of Valor, the largest database of military medal recipients.

“It’s got me puzzled,” Sterner said in an interview Wednesday. “I understand the need to recognize the guys at the console who are doing some pretty important things. But to see it ranking above the Bronze Star [with] V?”

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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Broomstick » 2013-02-13 09:04pm

WTF?

What the hell is so damn "valorous" about piloting what amounts to a glorified RC aircraft? Important, yes, it's arguably that, but valorous?

Again, WTF?
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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Stark » 2013-02-13 09:05pm

It could be institutional. Medals aren't always really about what people think they're about. These medals, and their 'importance' could just be a tool to manage the (apparently) high stress the pilots are under and address possible in-service rivalry or dislike for the position.

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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by weemadando » 2013-02-13 09:09pm

Yeah, it's definitely a reward for value of the position, because let's face it where would the US be without Drones right now?

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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Stark » 2013-02-13 09:14pm

I think you mean where would US military contractors be without drones. :V

It'd be interesting to see how other military people take this, given that it could be seen as devaluing the actually dangerous roles that get your leg blown off and then stuck with VA the rest of your life.

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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by weemadando » 2013-02-13 09:20pm

Stark wrote:It'd be interesting to see how other military people take this, given that it could be seen as devaluing the actually dangerous roles that get your leg blown off and then stuck with VA the rest of your life.
I'm going to go with "poorly".

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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by thejester » 2013-02-13 09:28pm

Broomstick wrote:WTF?

What the hell is so damn "valorous" about piloting what amounts to a glorified RC aircraft? Important, yes, it's arguably that, but valorous?

Again, WTF?
Nothing is and the award isn't an acknowledgement of valour. All militaries have decorations for outstanding service rather than individual acts of valour - it's why staff officers can be awarded things like the DSO.
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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Lonestar » 2013-02-13 10:13pm

CO got a Bronze Star for shooting TLAMs into Baghdad. Medals are given for dubiously "valorous" reasons all the time.
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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Scrib » 2013-02-13 10:18pm

Hey, you gotta give out those Achievements.

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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Lonestar » 2013-02-13 10:26pm

Stark wrote:Are drone pilots officers/actual pilots, or are they regular soldiers?

Depends on the drone and the service.

Predators flown by the USAF are operated by pilots. Predators flown by the Army are operated by enlisted.
"The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles."

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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Guardsman Bass » 2013-02-13 10:39pm

It does apparently take a toll on the drone pilots to do it (link).
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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2013-02-13 11:59pm

The Bronze Stars that are handed out like mad to say submarine captains, I think three got them for Iraqi Freedom In fact, generally do not have the V for Valor quantifier, but in fact you explicitly can get the normal Bronze Star for non combat duties, often stuff that is at the end of the day, basically good paperwork. As a result large numbers are awarded and a normal Bronze star is only ninth in order of precedence among US medals. Ranking a new combat only medal above that, I see nothing wrong with. Above the V for Valor Bronze Star is stupid, it should go in-between. In any case, it remains far less stupid then say, the glorious Cold War Victory Medal created for certain state national guards and persistent attempts to create a national Cold War Service Medal.
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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Lord Relvenous » 2013-02-14 01:47am

Guardsman Bass wrote:It does apparently take a toll on the drone pilots to do it (link).
I'd never really thought of the aspect about getting to know someone's life and habits pretty intimately and then being ordered to kill them. That just sounds terrible.
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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Broomstick » 2013-02-14 04:34am

On a certain level I'm actually glad that these men and women haven't lost site of the humanity of the people they're watching. Apparently it's not just a highly realistic video game, they are acutely aware of the reality of what they're doing.

On the flip side, we need to deal with any damage resulting from this form of combat.

However, we really do need to think of these drone operators as a form of real pilot, whatever the official title, because operating one of these drones requires the same understanding of flight operations as sitting in the cockpit. True, the controls are different and if the aircraft goes down the pilot isn't in the resulting wreck but they are still flying something. This is not something where you can just pull a random guy out of the crowd, sit him down in front of the controls, and expect good results. It still requires aptitude and training.

It wouldn't surprise me if some of the stress and fatigue stems from a lack of understanding that this isn't quite as simple as just sitting at a desk and pushing buttons. I'm assuming there's quite a bit of mental effort involved flying these things, combined with routine and boredom which contributes surprisingly well towards wearing out people mentally. I have to wonder if these pilots are being given longer than ideal shifts under the assumption that, not being physically in combat, they don't become fatigued as quickly as they actually are.

I have to wonder if their position is somewhat analogous to that of air traffic controllers where outsiders assume that they're "just sitting there" and therefore shouldn't be tired, and with little comprehension of the stressors involved. The history of aviation has been plagued by assumptions regarding human abilities and limitations that have cause quite a bit of damage, and hard lessons have to be learned over and over.
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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Admiral Valdemar » 2013-02-14 10:43am

That kinda reminds me of Flight Of The Phoenix where they argue the guy who helps build their plane out of the desert builds "only toy planes" and that it's nothing on an actual aeroplane designer. Despite, of course, it being harder to make something fly when the pilot isn't even in the thing to control it.

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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Broomstick » 2013-02-14 10:52am

As someone who has flown both in-pilot and RC airplanes, while there are some significant differences you still need similar knowledge of aviation/aerodynamics to fly either, you still need to be able to think three-dimensionally, and both require on-going mental effort even after you've mastered the basics. Being good in one mode does not automatically translate into mastery of the other, although those with experience in one or the other will pick up the second quicker than a raw beginner.
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Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Dominarch's Hope » 2013-02-14 12:01pm

It could also be to counteract the perceived disrespect, both from other soldiers and themselves. Now whether they should be above people on the ground, is a diffferent story.

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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Tanasinn » 2013-02-15 10:34am

If burnout is such a problem, I'm sure they can find some no-life WoW junkies who'll be pleased to do the same repetitive task day after day. Just give them some energy drinks, junk food, and a jar to piss in and I'm sure they'll be fine. :lol:

Putting this above the bronze star with valor is a dubious decision at best. It sounds like a good way to start of inter-service resentment and further degrade the credibility of medals.
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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Simon_Jester » 2013-02-15 11:21am

Tanasinn wrote:If burnout is such a problem, I'm sure they can find some no-life WoW junkies who'll be pleased to do the same repetitive task day after day. Just give them some energy drinks, junk food, and a jar to piss in and I'm sure they'll be fine. :lol:
Did you not read the earlier posts?

Part of the point here is that it is a hard job, flying a plane is not easy and being able to fly one without direct feedback isn't easy either. It's not something that just any random idiot will be able to handle competently.
Putting this above the bronze star with valor is a dubious decision at best. It sounds like a good way to start of inter-service resentment and further degrade the credibility of medals.
On par with the bronze star without valor would make more sense.
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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Tanasinn » 2013-02-15 11:37am

Simon_Jester wrote: Part of the point here is that it is a hard job, flying a plane is not easy and being able to fly one without direct feedback isn't easy either. It's not something that just any random idiot will be able to handle competently.
Naturally. That's the whole crux of the joke, really. 'So you're having problems with normal people burning out doing a repetitive task day in and day out for huge shifts? Use a MMO addict.' And I don't think I've seen any human being outside of a clinical sociopath with more contempt for fellow humans than say an EVE Online player, so there's that, too.
On par with the bronze star without valor would make more sense.
Indeed. As it is I think this'll end up being a damaging move. I'm sure you'll here plenty of people sneering at the military for giving guys a medal for playing a video game. I don't expect live combat soldiers to be particularly sympathetic to the 'long hours and psychological trauma' argument, either.
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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2013-02-15 11:48am

Simon_Jester wrote:On par with the bronze star without valor would make more sense.
No it would make no sense at all, because it'd then be redundant, and you'd not answer the question of precedence of the ribbon on the uniform which is the entire issue at hand.
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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by Broomstick » 2013-02-15 12:26pm

Tanasinn wrote:'So you're having problems with normal people burning out doing a repetitive task day in and day out for huge shifts? Use a MMO addict.'
How about you shut the fuck up about a topic you clearly know nothing about? You haven't a goddamned clue how there's a difference between flying a remote controlled aircraft in the real world versus a fucking collection of pixels in a damned game with dumbed physics almost as retarded as you are.

Is it just me, or did someone leave the fucking door open again so a bunch of dumb-asses wandered in here recently?
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by The Vortex Empire » 2013-02-15 12:42pm

Broomstick wrote:
Tanasinn wrote:'So you're having problems with normal people burning out doing a repetitive task day in and day out for huge shifts? Use a MMO addict.'
How about you shut the fuck up about a topic you clearly know nothing about? You haven't a goddamned clue how there's a difference between flying a remote controlled aircraft in the real world versus a fucking collection of pixels in a damned game with dumbed physics almost as retarded as you are.

Is it just me, or did someone leave the fucking door open again so a bunch of dumb-asses wandered in here recently?
I'm fairly certain he was joking.

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Re: Drone pilots now more valorous than ever.

Post by fgalkin » 2013-02-15 01:26pm

Why couldn't they simply give them Bronze Stars (without V)?

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